Wednesday 25 August 2021

Ricky Gervais is wrong on domestic cat behavior

Ricky Gervais is on YouTube talking to Ellen DeGeneres on her show about cats and dogs. Ricky Gervais is a well-known animal lover (well-done). He doesn't keep dogs because he travels too much which is entirely understandable. But he gets it wrong on cats. I'm a bit surprised by this.

Ricky Gervais is wrong on cats
Ricky Gervais is wrong on cats. Screenshot.

He says that you can leave cats alone for as long as you want because they don't care. But you can't do the same thing with dogs. He thinks cats are highly independent. This is his first error. And before I go on, I want to say that I respect Ricky Gervais for his love of animals. But the fact of the matter is that cats are not independent. They are dependent upon their human caregiver for company, sustenance and security. And they mind when left alone for long periods.

Perhaps the problem in this instance is that Ricky does travel too much and therefore he does not have an ideal connection with his cat. It would appear that he leaves his cat without his company for considerable periods of time. This is not going to help the relationship. He thinks dogs can't cope with this and cats can but I would argue that cats can cope with that separation better but it does not promote a strong relationship.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

And I think there is a huge misconception about domestic cat independence. In the right homes where the caregiver is good at their job domestic cats are very emotionally connected to their human companion. They miss them when they're gone (separation anxiety and idiopathic cystitis). They welcome their human companion when they come home having waited by the door for hours. They want to be next to their human companion. They like to place their paw against their human companion to make sure that they are in contact with them. There is a plethora of indicators which scream to us that domestic cats are connected to their human caregiver very strongly.

And you can't simply turf a domestic cat out onto the street and expect them to survive which is what you are more or less saying if you call them independent. Ninety percent of domestic cats are almost entirely dependent and very often cats are in a codependent relationship with their human caregivers. I am for instance and I'm proud of it. It's a good relationship. It is a good substitute to the human-human relationship. There is nothing wrong with it. It is mutually beneficial. But in effect the parties are mutually dependent.

Secondly, he talks about brushing his cat and then stroking her. He says that she asks to be brushed which is very typical because cats enter into a routine with their human caregiver and they know that if they meow in a certain way their human caregiver will respond by doing what they want which is in this case to brush them. But Ricky Gervais says that after he has brushed and then stroked his cat, she bites him. And he puts that down to his cat asking to be brushed and not stroked. His cat is complaining that he should not have stroked her. He's sort of joking but at the same time he is being serious.

The truth is that this is not a question of his cat receiving something that wasn't requested and therefore complaining with a bite; it is that Ricky Gervais has overstimulated his cat because he is brushing and stroking her too vigorously, forcefully or for too long and his cat thinks that this is play rather than petting (which cats perceive as being licked). 

So, his cat is being stimulated to play and for a domestic cat play involves slapping with the paws (claws out) and biting with the mouth. That's why his cat bites him when he strokes her after brushing. He puts it down to his cat being fickle. I'm afraid it's not; it is down to him brushing and stroking her not quite in the right way. I don't want to be critical but that is the truth of it.

You can tell that Ricky is very close to his cat because he understands variations in her meows. This is partly, though, because a cat will request certain things at certain times under certain circumstances which can be interpreted not necessarily through the vocalisation but because of those circumstances.

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